We never really know what it's like unless we are in another persons metaphorical shoes. Even when we experience the same thing; our reaction may be totally different.
Showing compassion to others and ourselves when we are going through stuff is essential.
Just this week, a woman whom I barely know, was looking teary. She told me her Mother passed four weeks ago, and she was struggling , adjusting seemed to be amplified as her Mother lived with the family for the last ten years so reminders of her not being there were constant. She told me she could not stop crying, even at work her tears were flowing out of control. She kept insisting "I should stop", "I should get on with things".
No, there is no should or shouldn't. Grief is a normal process, it can not be hurried or controlled, it has to be felt despite how we have been indoctrinated to cover up our emotions and fit back into fast paced daily life. Sadness, guilt, regret, relief or any other side effect of loss are worked through during the grieving phase. While she was sharing her sad story of loss with me, another woman showed up, they knew each other. This one jumped into the conversation to cut her off, not to listen, but to share her opinion. She became, indignant, declaring that she knew how it felt, as she had lost her Mother (who also lived in their home) just last year, so she knows exaclty how this feels. She starts telling the grieving woman, what she should do.... clear out the room, clear out the bed, all based on what she had done. I watched their interaction and noticed that the grieving lady did not hear and kept expressing how this was affecting her. She simply needed someone to listen to her, she was not asking, nor did she need advice.
We don't really understand, not from exactly the same perspective, so it is more beneficial to offer condolences by way of listening and being ok with emotional outbursts.
Though we usually step in offering our own experience from a well meaning place, when people are going through their own process, ours is irrelevant. The kindest thing we can do is to listen. Support family, friends, colleagues, even strangers instead of attempting to resolve their discomfort.
We jump in with resolutions to dispel our own discomfort with outward emotional turmoil. Tears make most of us uncomfortable, the kindest thing we can do is be ok with allowing grief to be expressed. Pass them a tissue. By human nature, we innately believe that we are right, naturally assuming that others feel and experience the way that we do. This is not the case. When we are ok with letting others be right as well we move towards being more accepting.
Resist ever telling someone to "get over it". The grieving process takes as long as it takes and it is not a conscious choice to stay in that tumultuous space.
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